If you’ve been around here very long, you know that nutrition is something I’ve struggled with for a long time…Before I was expecting my daughter, I’m not sure actual “nutrition” was even on my radar.
Sure, I had read all of the weight loss magazines and blogs about how to eat healthier and lose weight. But for me, it was always about that last piece – what I could do to lose weight.
You see, in middle and high school, I struggled with disordered eating, and while I was able to work through it with the support of my family and an effective workout plan and eating guide, I never really established a healthy relationship with food. I viewed it more as a means to an end rather than a life-giving substance.
But after the birth of my daughter, all of that changed. I knew I needed to learn and do better, not just for me but for her. I knew I needed to learn what nutrition actually looked and felt like so I could (1.) provide her with the nutrition she needed and (2.) help her develop a better understanding of and relationship with food than I had growing up.
Together my husband and I made the choice that I would breastfeed our sweet girl as long as I could through her first year. Though as many new moms are I was hyper-aware of my new “mom bod” and wanted to do what I could to start losing weight without compromising the quality of nutrition I was providing my daughter.
With time, I began learning that to provide her the quality of milk she needed to grow and thrive, I needed to maintain a diet that was balanced, that included clean, whole foods, and that was nourishing – not at all restricting like I was used to. And slowly, my understanding of food and nutrition starting morphing into this new and freeing idea.
I learned to recognize food as fuel for both myself and my daughter. I discovered that food isn’t so much about good and bad as it is about nutritious and insubstantial. I uncovered this new concept about filling my body with nutrient-dense foods that provided for my needs but more importantly sustained my daughter.
And with each of those new discoveries, I was able to establish an approach to eating and nutritional support that maintained an adequate milk supply and provided my daughter with all of the real, wholesome nutrition that she needed for 11 months. For me the choice to breastfeed was one that initially was made to help my daughter thrive, but ultimately, it helped both of us do just that.
However, I know that a mother’s diet is only part of the equation when it comes to breastfeeding. There are so many other factors that impact the ability to nurse that we should all be more aware of and sensitive to.
A mother’s choice in feeding her baby with breast milk or formula, from the breast or with a bottle, in private or in public should be just that. A choice that is ultimately about providing her child with the nutrition she needs to thrive. Because I’ve found that when baby thrives, so does mama, and that is what real nutrition is.